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Let’s consider Jeremiah’s prayer within the context of Chapter thirty-two.
Focal point: Obedience to God’s instructions when they seem irrational to human understanding.
Jeremiah was imprisoned in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of King Zedekiah (32:1-2). He was imprisoned because of his obedience to God’s command to prophesy the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and that the people would be carried off into captivity, including the king (vs. 3-5).
Here are the questions based on human rationale: If Jerusalem will be destroyed and the people carried away, what sense does it make to purchase land? Why buy worthless land?
Nevertheless, Jeremiah was obedient to what the LORD instructed; he bought the land and put the title deeds in a clay jar (vs. 6-13). WORTH NOTING is that although God commands/instructs us to do something irrational to us, He always has a purpose for what He instructs us to do. Also, because He is sovereign, He may not or may tell us His purpose, as He did with Jeremiah.
The reason Jeremiah was instructed to buy the land, and preserve the title deeds in a pottery jar was to signify that someday all the land of Judah, worthless at the time because of Babylonian invasion, would once again become valuable, would be bought and be occupied by God’s chosen people. In essence, buying the land was a “prophetic act” of faith in the sovereignty of God and the truth of His word.
Although Jeremiah’s instructions were private, his actions were public. No doubt, the act of symbolism was senseless to the people; yet, the prophet obeyed.
There is a trendy saying now, “Just do it.” Let me encourage you, “just do it”–just do what God says. Additionally, when you obey God’s instructions regardless of how illogical they may seem, acknowledge His sovereignty. Since God is sovereign, you can trust Him to work all things according to the counsel of His will and good pleasure.
Here’s Jeremiah prayer acknowledging God’s sovereignty, which substantiates his obedience to God’s instructions, and affirms his trust in God’s faithfulness to perform what He has spoken:
16 Then after I had given the papers to Baruch, I prayed to the Lord:
17 “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! 18 You show unfailing love to thousands, but you also bring the consequences of one generation’s sin upon the next. You are the great and powerful God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 You have all wisdom and do great and mighty miracles. You see the conduct of all people, and you give them what they deserve. 20 You performed miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt—things still remembered to this day! And you have continued to do great miracles in Israel and all around the world. You have made your name famous to this day.
21 “You brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders, with a strong hand and powerful arm, and with overwhelming terror. 22 You gave the people of Israel this land that you had promised their ancestors long before—a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 Our ancestors came and conquered it and lived in it, but they refused to obey you or follow your word. They have not done anything you commanded. That is why you have sent this terrible disaster upon them.
24 “See how the siege ramps have been built against the city walls! Through war, famine, and disease, the city will be handed over to the Babylonians, who will conquer it. Everything has happened just as you said. 25 And yet, O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”
In the end, what God promises will come to pass! Do you believe this?
Can we acknowledge God’s sovereignty by being obedient to His irrational instructions?
Are we at a point in our relationship with God that if He instructs us to do something irrational and does not tell us why, will we be obedient?
Wrong motives – “You ask and you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasure” (James 4:3). Selfishness is one of the greatest hindrances to answered prayer. Petitioning God for selfish reasons is certain to keep your prayers from being answered. Over indulgence is sin. Matt. 20:20-22; Luke 12:13-15). Note a proper motive is recorded in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. In other words, whatever you ask for in prayer and whatever you do in deeds (works) the motive should be to give God glory.
Psalm 66:18 and Isaiah 59:2 in no uncertain terms makes it clear that unconfessed sin in our heart is a hindrance to answered prayers. Always ask the Lord to cleanse and purify your heart and mind so that you can approach Him properly with the assurance that He will hear your prayers, and in His timing grant your request.
There is no need to try to impress others. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made in God’s image (Psalm 139:14; Genesis 1:26). We are complete in Him, (Colossians 2:10) and loved unconditionally by Him.
Trying to impress other people is like saying you are dissatisfied with who God made you to be. Be yourself and talk to your personal God. “And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5).
When praying with others, there is always a danger of being more concerned with what they think about your prayers than being concerned with the One to whom your prayers are directed. Never try to impress people when you pray and God is certainly not impressed by prayers.
Giving is a principle in the Kingdom of God. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). Additional scriptures concerning giving are:
1 John 3:17-20; Proverbs 21:13; Luke 6:38. I also encourage you to find other scriptures that teaches on giving; there are lots of them!
Improper treatment of your spouse hinder prayers from being answered. (This is specific to the husband and his treatment of his wife; however, why risk unanswered prayers because of our improper treatment of others, period.) Just treat everyone right…be kind, and love one another.